Medical Transcriptionists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports.

Work Environment: Most medical transcriptionists work for hospitals, physicians' offices, and third-party transcription service companies that provide transcription services to healthcare establishments. Others are self-employed.

How to Become One: Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary education. Prospective medical transcriptionists must have an understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, grammar, and word-processing software.

Salary: The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists is $30,100.

Job Outlook: Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to decline 7 percent over the next ten years.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical transcriptionists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a medical transcriptionist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Medical Transcriptionist Jobs

  • Medical Transcriptionist - Medical Scribe - Sweetwater Pain and Spine - Reno, NV

    Job description A medical practice is seeking a motivated person to work as a full or part time medical transcriptionist . The job requires good communication and computer skills. Competitive salary ...

  • Medical Transcriptionist/ Clinical Data Monday- Friday (7:30-4:00pm) - Genomic Testing Cooperative, LLC - Irvine, CA

    Job Summary * Act as a liaison, provide product/services information and resolve any emerging problems or inquiries pertaining to the CEO. * Help accomplish a variety of tasks related to operations ...

  • Medical Scribe (Shasta Lake) - Shasta Community Health Center - Lake Shasta, CA

    Medical Transcriptionist experience. * Typing 60 WPM or greater. BENEFITS * Competitive Wages * Medical Insurance * Dental Insurance * Vision Insurance * 403 (b) Retirement Plan with matching ...

See all Medical Transcriptionist jobs

What Medical Transcriptionists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Medical transcriptionists, sometimes referred to as healthcare documentation specialists, listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. They also may review and edit medical documents created using speech recognition technology. Transcriptionists interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in preparing patients' medical histories, discharge summaries, and other documents.

Duties of Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists typically do the following:

  • Listen to the recorded dictation of a doctor or other healthcare worker
  • Interpret and transcribe the dictation into patient history, exam notes, operative reports, referral letters, discharge summaries, and other documents
  • Review and edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software, making sure that the transcription is correct, complete, and consistent in style
  • Translate medical abbreviations and jargon into the appropriate long form
  • Identify inconsistencies, errors, and missing information within a report that could compromise patient care
  • Follow up with the healthcare provider to ensure that reports are accurate
  • Submit health records for physicians to approve
  • Follow patient confidentiality guidelines and legal documentation requirements
  • Enter medical reports into electronic health records (EHR) systems
  • Perform quality improvement audits

Traditionally, medical transcriptionists used audio playback equipment to listen to an entire dictation in order to produce a transcribed report, and some transcription is still done this way. It has become more common for medical documents to be prepared using speech recognition technology, in which specialized software automatically prepares an initial draft of a report. The transcriptionist then listens to the voice file and reviews the draft for accuracy, identifying any errors and editing the report, when necessary. Transcriptionists use word-processing and other specialized software to prepare the transcripts, as well as medical reference materials when needed.

Medical transcriptionists must be familiar with medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments. Their ability to understand what the healthcare worker has recorded, correctly transcribe that information, and identify any inaccuracies in the transcript is critical to reducing the chance that patients will get ineffective or even harmful treatments. Medical transcriptionists also may need to be familiar with EHR systems.

Medical transcriptionists who work in doctors' offices may have other duties, such as answering phones and greeting patients.

Work Environment for Medical Transcriptionists[About this section] [To Top]

Medical transcriptionists hold about 59,600 jobs. The largest employers of medical transcriptionists are as follows:

Administrative and support services 43%
Offices of physicians 25%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 12%
Self-employed workers 5%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 2%

Administrative and support services includes companies that provide transcription services.

Medical transcriptionists may work from home, receiving dictation and submitting drafts electronically.

Medical Transcriptionist Work Schedules

Most medical transcriptionists work full time. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and/or may have some flexibility in determining their schedules. Their work can be stressful because they need to ensure that reports are accurate within a quick turnaround time.

How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Medical Transcriptionists near you!

Medical transcriptionists typically need postsecondary education. Some choose to become certified.

Education for Medical Transcriptionists

Employers prefer to hire transcriptionists who have completed postsecondary education in medical transcription, which is offered by vocational schools, community colleges, and distance-learning programs. Medical transcription programs are typically 1-year certificate programs, although there are also associate's degree programs.

Programs normally include coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, risk management, legal issues relating to healthcare documentation, and English grammar and punctuation. Many of these programs include supervised on-the-job experience. Some transcriptionists, especially those already familiar with medical terminology from previous experience as a nursing assistant or medical secretary, become proficient through refresher courses and training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Medical Transcriptionists

Although certification is not required, some medical transcriptionists choose to become certified. The Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity offers the Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) and the Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) certifications. Both certifications require passing an exam and periodic retesting or continuing education.

The RHDS certification, formerly known as the Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT), is for recent graduates with less than 2 years of experience and who work in a single specialty environment, such as a clinic or a doctor's office.

The CHDS certification, formerly known as the Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT), is for transcriptionists who hold the RHDS designation. In addition, CHDS candidates must have at least 2 years of acute care experience, including experience handling dictation in various medical specialties.

To maintain certification, medical transcriptionists must complete continuing education requirements every 3 years.

Important Qualities for Medical Transcriptionists

Computer skills. Medical transcriptionists must be comfortable using computers and word-processing software, because those tools are an essential part of their jobs. They also may need to know how to operate electronic health records (EHR) systems.

Critical-thinking skills. Medical transcriptionists must assess medical reports and spot any inaccuracies and inconsistencies in finished drafts. They must also think critically when doing research to find the information that they need and to ensure that sources are both accurate and reliable.

Listening skills. Medical transcriptionists must listen carefully to dictation from physicians. They need to hear and interpret the intended meaning of the medical report.

Time-management skills. Because dictation must be done quickly, medical transcriptionists should be comfortable working under short deadlines.

Writing skills. Medical transcriptionists need a good understanding of the English language and grammar.

Medical Transcriptionist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for medical transcriptionists is $30,100. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,190.

The median annual wages for medical transcriptionists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Medical and diagnostic laboratories $46,150
Hospitals; state, local, and private $38,360
Offices of physicians $36,750
Administrative and support services $29,120

Some medical transcriptionists are paid based on the volume of transcription they produce. Others are paid an hourly rate or an annual salary.

Most medical transcriptionists work full time. Medical transcriptionists who work from home may work outside typical business hours and/or may have some flexibility in determining their schedules. Their work can be stressful because they need to ensure that reports are accurate within a quick turnaround time.

Job Outlook for Medical Transcriptionists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of medical transcriptionists is projected to decline 7 percent over the next ten years.

Despite declining employment, about 9,300 openings for medical transcriptionists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Medical Transcriptionists

Technological advances in speech recognition and electronic health records (EHR) software allow physicians to document some information in the moment, reducing the need for medical transcriptionists. In addition, these technologies increase medical transcriptionists' productivity, allowing more transcription by fewer workers.

Meanwhile, as healthcare providers seek to cut costs, some will contract out transcription services and not do in-house transcription.

Employment projections data for Medical Transcriptionists, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Medical transcriptionists 59,600 55,700 -7 -3,900

A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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